How Jennifer Weiner, Jen Lancaster and Stacey Ballis got me buying books again
Seven years ago, I stopped buying books. I moved to a city with a great library hold system. I could request all the hot new books and have them in my hands in a matter of months – and they were free. I blogged about the ones I liked. I tried out cookbooks and even bought a couple of those that I couldn’t live without. Then, I started following Jen Lancaster and Jennifer Weiner on twitter. Their recommendations turned me on to great authors: Alison Scotch Winn, Caroline Leavitt, Sarah Dessen, Stacey Ballis, Libby Bray , Liz Moore and the list goes on. I read their books and tweeted my delight. And they tweeted back! It was thrilling to get an immediate answer from authors whose works had transported me to a different place or even back to times in my life with a whole new perspective. Following these women on twitter also opened a door into the publishing world.
In the past year or so, Jennifer Weiner has written about the bias against women in literary publications. She’s noted the gender disparity in the selection of books reviewed by the New York Times and the degradation of literature branded “chick lit”. Initially, I found this annoying. Who cares? I am a person. I am reading your books. The people who are putting you on the best seller list don’t seem to care about this disparity. I don’t choose books based on reviews in the New York Times because I find the NY Times pretentious and irrelevant to my life. I want to punch people in the nose who say, “I saw in the Times yesterday….” But then I figured, these reviews must somehow be very very important. I was just missing it.
Then author Stacey Ballis spelled it out for me in her blog. Reviews matter because pre-orders matter. Pre-orders determine the size of a print run and the resources a publisher will put into promoting a book. This is a big deal in general and a very big deal for new authors or authors who haven’t previously appeared on the bestseller list. Now I got it. The bias in these literary publications could be quashing the dreams of these incredibly talented women authors simply because a lot of women read their books. That pissed me off. Thankfully, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Lancaster and Stacey Ballis have given me an opportunity to do something about it by recommending great new authors early enough that my pre-order can help make a difference. So I have started buying books again and if you value great books written by great woman authors may be you should too.
Jennifer Weiner tweets @jenniferweiner & blogs at http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Lancaster tweets @altgeldshrugged & blogs at http://www.jennsylvania.com/
Stacey Ballis tweets @staceyballis & blogs at http://thepolymathchronicles.blogspot.com/
You should PRE-ORDER her new book Off the Menu. Go ahead. I'll wait.